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House passes Jonesboro’s tax vote bill

Aerotropolis development authority also passes

— Legislation calling for a referendum on lowering Jonesboro’s homestead exemption overcame previous controversies and made it out of the Georgia House of Representatives Wednesday.

House Bill 330 was passed by a vote of 164-3 as part of the House’s “Local Calendar” and it will now go to the Senate for approval. The Senate will have seven legislative days to review the bill and decide whether to pass it or reject it before the 2013 legislative term ends.

The bill’s passage in the House keeps it on track to be passed into law this year. If it becomes law, Jonesboro residents would vote in November on whether their Homestead Exemption should be lowered from $60,000 to $10,000 over a period of five years.

“I am pleased to do my part in ensuring the voices of the residents of Jonesboro can be heard on this matter,” Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro) said in a written statement.

Several state representatives have previously said it had a few more days to get out of the House than statewide bills because it was local legislation.

Therefore, it was not subject to last week’s “Crossover Day” deadline and still has a shot at making to Gov. Nathan Deal’s desk this spring.

Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day said she was appreciative of Glanton’s efforts to get the bill passed and hoped to see a similar result in the Senate.

“I’m just very thankful that we’ve been listened to,” Day said.

As recently as two weeks ago, the bill had been in danger of not getting out of the House because of reservations held by some members of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation and the House Intragovernment Coordination Committee.

Legislative support for the bill was boosted after residents called on the Clayton County Delegation to give them a chance to vote on the exemption’s fate during a town hall forum last week.

“I witnessed firsthand the passion displayed during our town hall meeting with our residents and their insistence that the General Assembly give them the opportunity to determine their own fate in regards to whether they want to tax themselves or not,” Glanton said. “I concur with that passion and insistence.”

The bill got enough signatures from local legislators to move forward last week. However, Day said the hassles involved with getting it through the House were almost enough to make her regret asking for the bill.

She said it has also made her wary of the delegation, going as far as criticizing the motives of some representatives in the delegation.

“If I had known we’d have to go through this much grief to get this bill passed, I probably wouldn’t have asked our City Council to pursue this,” Day said. “I can’t believe such a tiny, insignificant bill caused such a huge blow up.”

The House also passed House Bill 545, which would create the Metropolitan Atlanta Aerotropolis Development Authority, as part of the Local Calendar. The bill was authored by Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-Ellenwood) and the authority is intended to foster economic development in the northwest area of Clayton County around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.